READER’S EDITORIAL: SAVE THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT

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By Cheryl A. Reiff, rancher and business owner

October 26, 2018 (San Diego’s East County) -- I am greatly concerned by The Administration's attempts to weaken the Endangered Species Act (ESA) thru nine currently proposed regulatory changes.  The proposed changes to the ESA, presented by Secretary Zinke and his Deputy Secretary Bernhardt, will make it very difficult to protect the wild animals that are already threatened with extinction (This is why they are listed as “endangered”). 

There are nearly 1500 species depending on the ESA for their survival.  Rules that would limit the ability of the ESA to do its job, would also hamper the health of our natural world to function properly. 

As an experienced member of the farming/ranching community, I know first-hand how important a balanced ecosystem is to the health of our environment.  With this in mind, I must say that the Administration's attempts to upset this balance by weakening the ESA thru these regulatory changes is extremely troubling and is simply wrong.

Farmers (and ranchers) are among the first to feel the effects of an imbalanced environment.  As such, I assert that we should be doing all we can to ensure that the ESA remains intact, relying on science-based data for decision making, and letting our elected officials know that we vehemently oppose the regulatory changes to the ESA as proposed by the Administration. 

Growing up in the 1960’s, there was great appreciation for the natural world - there was a balance between admiration for the environment and the importance of man’s industry.  In the most recent decades however, this equilibrium has become skewed in favor of big business and economics that is favored at the cost of everything standing in the way of what is called “progress”.

These proposed ESA changes demonstrate an Administration that is clearly out of touch with the balance of progress, with an eye on economic gain only.  Although businesses change over time, and income opportunities continue to evolve, correcting climate change isn’t like flipping a switch, and once a species becomes extinct, it’s gone forever.

The ESA needs to be protected in its current status more than ever, and those who are proposing these changes as presented by Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke and his Deputy Secretary Bernhardt should take a look at the BIG picture, to determine what will really to be of lasting importance.

Human kind has been given the job of stewarding creation, which does not mean plundering the natural world to the point of extinction.  In the grand scheme of life, each species has its place, and a specific responsibility.  As creatures disappear – through humanity’s arrogance or greed - we are playing Russian Roulette with the balance of all creation.

Furthermore, nature is solace, and mind/body/spirit healing to humanity, especially to people such as our Veterans with years of service to our country, who have fought to uphold our freedoms and core values. When returning from duty, or just as a break from our stressful daily lives, there is nothing like spending time in the wild open spaces of our national parks to help with the culture shock.  Watching bison roam the plains, eagles soaring overhead, and if lucky enough to see a wolf or a grizzly bear even better. 

The freedom to interact with nature is important to our physical, mental, and spiritual health, to veterans and others who desperately need balance, solace, and healing.

I am very concerned that implementation of the proposed regulatory changes to the ESA could take away all of this, and at the very least drastically change these outdoor experiences, as more and more habitat is destroyed and as wild animals become extinct. 

Humanity’s job here on earth is to protect it, and to maintain the balance among all its creatures that creation has so beautifully designed.  The proposed changes would allow the actions of unfettered greed to upset the natural balance of our ecosystems and food chain.  We should strive to protect, not destroy creation’s balance.

With conservation being threatened from all sides - habitat destruction, a changing climate, diminishing wildlife populations –the Administration should now be working diligently to safeguard our protections, rather than weaken them.   The “environment” is OUR environment, our health, our safety, our joy.  It is our world.  Why are we destroying our own home?

Further threatening already endangered wildlife is the wrong step to take.   I encourage fellow supporters of Mother Nature’s splendor and wisdom to join me in opposing these efforts to weaken the ESA.  It’s the least we can do to ensure that creation in all its beauty remains intact.

I urge readers and voters, on behalf of our continued life on a healthy, beautiful earth, to take a second look at these regulatory changes, and to let your representatives in Washington D.C. know that you stand with healthy choices and oppose these poorly thought-out proposals.

I hope you’ll join me in opposing these short-sited proposals in support of the ESA as it currently stands.

You can easily access your elected officials at https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials.

The opinions in this editorial reflect the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. To submit an editorial for consideration, contact editor@eastcountymagazine.org.